With so many different alternative and “natural” healing options and therapies out there, it’s hard to know which types might be best for you. Some people dabble in color therapy, energy work, and some just turn to massage. So what’s the right one for you? That depends on a number of factors, including what you’re looking to get out of the treatments, and whether or not you’re concerned about there being any scientific evidence that they work. Many of these complementary and integrative health approaches fall into the category of “there’s no evidence that the treatment works or the basis for it is even a real thing, but there are no harmful side effects. So if it’s helping you and you can afford it, do your thing.” Reiki is one of those treatments. Here’s what to know about the practice, including the purported benefits, and how to pronounce reiki.
What is reiki?
First things first: what exactly is reiki? According to the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Integrative Medicine, reiki is “hands-on natural healing using the universal life force energy.” While yes, it’s technically “hands-on,” it’s more in the sense that the reiki practitioner places their hands on a patient, serving as a conduit between them and the universal life force energy (meaning that the energy comes from the universal source — not from the practitioner).
What can I expect at a typical reiki session?
If you’re thinking about booking a reiki session, here’s what you can expect. It’s similar to a massage setting but with a few key differences. A usual reiki treatment session lasts around 50 minutes and involves the patient lying on a massage table, fully clothed. The reiki practitioner usually explains the process before starting the session. The room can be quiet, or relaxing music may play in the background. Reiki practitioners usually give you a choice. There isn’t a lot of physical touching but most contact is done to the head and torso. They usually focus on injured parts of your body as well. Using 12 to 15 different hand positions, the practitioner softly places their hands directly above the patient’s “energy locations,” though there is no pressure, massage, or manipulation. Some patients report feeling tingling sensations in their body, others fall asleep, some feel relaxed, others feel nothing.
Does reiki actually work?
If you’re used to thinking about this type of healing in terms of a hands-on massage, you may be wondering what reiki is good for, exactly. To be abundantly clear, reiki is a complementary health practice and does not replace receiving medical care and treatments from healthcare professionals. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Medicine (which is part of the National Institutes of Health), while there have been studies on using reiki as a treatment for a variety of conditions — including pain, anxiety, and depression —most of the research has not been of high quality, and the results have been inconsistent at best.
On top of that, there is also no scientific evidence supporting the existence of the energy field reiki is based upon. Having said that, there are no harmful side effects or risk factors involved with reiki, so if it makes you feel better (including feeling more relaxed), then by all means, go for it.
What are the benefits of reiki?
So, what are the purported benefits of reiki? According to the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Integrative Medicine, the benefits of reiki are thought to include:
- Bringing about a peaceful, deep state of relaxation
- Dissolving energy blockages and tension
- “Detoxifying” the body
- Supporting the well-being of a person receiving traditional medical treatments that are debilitating (e.g., chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, kidney dialysis)
- Supplying universal life force energy to the body
- Stimulating the body’s immune system
- Helping to relieve pain
- Stimulating tissue and bone healing after injury or surgery
- Increasing the vibrational frequency on physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual levels
Can a reiki session help you relax and feel more peaceful? Sure! You’re getting the opportunity to spend 50 minutes to rest quietly — at this point, most people could probably benefit from that kind of break. But as for the other claims, again, there is not research to back them up.
Reiki Hand Positions
Hand movements and massages are key to reiki therapy. A therapist places their hands on specific parts of the body to promote positive energy and relaxation. Here are a few hand positions you can try on yourself.
- Put your hand in a prayer position in the middle of your chest. Make sure your hands are below your chin. In this position, focus on your breathing and inhale and exhale slowly. This is a great way to relax your mind and body.
- Place your hand on the top of your head and breathe deeply. Focus your breathing on the top of your hand. This position is ideal for relaxing your muscles and the skin on your head.
- Put your hand over your eyes and inhale and exhale. Focus on your hands and keep them off your nose. The goal is the relax your facial muscles and skin.
How do you pronounce reiki?
Now, let’s address something else: how to pronounce reiki. It seems like a pretty straightforward question, but for a whole bunch of reasons, it’s complicated. The short answer is “RAY-key” in American and British English. You can listen to a voice saying the word in both accents, courtesy of the Cambridge Dictionary.
But, since it’s a Japanese word, that brings up the age-old question of how to pronounce a non-English word when speaking English. Similar to the subset of people who studied abroad in Europe during college and 20 years later, still manage to pepper conversations with references to the time they spent in “BarTHelona,” some English-speaking people who are into reiki prefer to pronounce it “LAY-key.”
That’s because, as Japanese language expert ThoughtCo., “the Japanese ‘r’ is different from the English r.’ The sound is sort of between the English ‘r’ and ‘l.'” The International Center for Reiki Training provides additional background on the confusing pronunciation, tracing it back to Portuguese priests in the 1540s, in case you’re interested.explains in an article on
How much is a reiki master’s salary?
Reiki practitioners do very well for themselves. According to ZipRecruiter, they make an average of $95,340 a year. However, some are paid as little as $20,000 while others can make as much as $158,000. New York is also a great place to practice because the average salary is $104,575. Check out the top 10 cities that pay reiki practitioners the most:
- San Mateo, CA
- Berkeley, CA
- Daly City, CA
- Richmond, CA
- Irvine, CA
- Odessa, TX
- Stamford, CT
- Orange, CA
- Bellevue, WA
- San Francisco, CA